Climate Hawk Kabuki

If climate hawks (see, I can play along) weren’t so stubborn, they’d listen to people like Paul Kelly:

The world knows all about the stated dangers to climate. It has heard the projections and in large part accepted the science. Every government, every school from kindergarten through university, most newspapers and magazines and media outlets subscribe.

Despite that, the world has rejected the global/state approach of mitigation through tax or penalty. Since Copenhagen the climate concerned have been slow to face this reality.

As someone who has seen the necessity of energy transformation for far longer than climate has been an issue, let me assure the climate concerned. There is an overwhelming mass of people who share your goal of fossil free energy, but for other reasons. Even though you’ve very largely won the climate debate, your approach to the goal is irrevocably blocked. No further discussion of the science can change that.

The goal, however, is still attainable. If you stop thinking in terms of climate, you will find approaches that can be implemented and have a chance for success. The truly concerned will ask how best to achieve energy transformation if climate were not an issue at all?

Paul’s been arguing this to no avail over at Stoat’s and other climate concerned blogs for a while. He’s articulate, unfailingly civil, and pretty much ignored. In lieu of this, here’s a few post-midterm predictions you can bank on:

Climate hawks will remain fiercely protective of their turf. They will feast on their new (Republican) enemies. They will continue preening. Meanwhile, their habitat will become increasingly less favorable to their long-term survival.

And if the worst comes to pass, at least they can say they went out fighting.

100 Responses to “Climate Hawk Kabuki”

  1. Rocco says:

    “If you stop thinking in terms of climate, you will find approaches that can be implemented”
    Is this some sort of Zen exercise? ūüôā

  2. kdk33 says:

    The people have indeed heard about climate dangers.¬† Indeed they have chosen not to act.¬† The notion that they have largely accepted these dangers (Kelly say science, so maybe he means¬† it a bit differently) leads to the cognitive dissonance that creates absurdities like:¬† the people are stupid, the people can no longer govern themselves, democracy is obsolete, Oil company CEO’s are genocidal manaics, deniers should be tried for crimes against humanity, republicans suck.

    What is far more plausible; and, in my opinion, the case: the people have heard and accepted the risk that CO2 may be warming the climate, but they also understand that the magnitude of warming is uncertain and the consequences speculative.  They have (correctly, IMO) concluded that the risk does to meet the hurdle for aggressive state mandated decarbonization.

    The people face many risks.  Most of them are, to some degree, uncertain.  The people have limited resources to address risks, and mitigation programs are themselves uncertain with attendant unintended consequences.  The people must spend wisely.  They have chosen, for now, to do nothing on climate change.

    It’s all really quite rational and ordinary.

  3. kdk33 says:

    The path to decarbonization is clear Рnot easy, but clear.  

    Find something cheaper.

  4. Pascvaks says:

    From here in the middle of the stadium, looks like the Irish scored a touchdown.

  5. bigcitylib says:

    As long as Paul Kelly is pushing the Breakthrough Institute approach, and as long as this involves approaching the incoming GOP leadership and asking for a Carbon Tax or an¬† increase in the gas tax, Mr. Kelly will be ignored because he’s talking fantasy.

  6. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    There’s a lot to Kelly’s position, and to Roger P’s very similar Climate Fix/Hartwell position.
     
    It all comes down to timetables. If we take climate off the table as the driver of policy, then timetables for decarbonizing energy go out the window and those of us who stay up at night worrying about the high-risk tail of the probability distribution are not satisfied.
     
    Pielke, Kelly, and their allies have a very good point: maybe it’s better to have an inadequate energy bill than no energy bill at all. But those of us who seriously and sincerely believe that we’re risking the future of civilization (to be clear, I’m talking about a very very small probability, but a non-negligible one that has almost infinite cost) are not willing to give up our struggle to persuade the public to accept more costly measures and real timetables for emissions reduction.
     
    That’s why separating different aspects of climate policy is probably a good idea. There’s no reason why folks like me should have to give up on our bigger goal of mandatory emissions reduction in order to support smaller, but sensible and desirable, approaches like Pielke’s and Kelly’s.

  7. There is no need to be a hawk to be a little apprehensive about the apporach of completely ignoring the climate problem and reframing it as an energy issue.

    Chances are we would only¬†enact no-regret policies that don’t take us on a safe path. Or that solutions may come in sight that solve the energy problem but not the climate problem (e.g. huge new reserves of fossil fuels).

    Both issues are important, and thus both should be mentioned.

  8. Dean says:

    If Kelly’s position is the same as the Breakthrough idea, it all strikes me as a liberal version of the old Simon Cornucopian idea that we don’t need to worry, we’ll just win the lottery – again and again – and think up something critical just when we need it, each and every time, and use it the way we need to.
     
    History hasn’t shown that to be the case. Numerous civilizations that were the technological peak of their time fell because they couldn’t meet challenges. That biologist Ehrlich lost an economics bet to Simon hardly disproves this.
     
    Of course our technological peak today is vastly higher than were those before us, but it’s still risking a lot to say that we can do what we need to by ignoring one of the key reasons we need to do it. Admittedly, nothing else is working at the moment so I’m not opposed to an energy bill that lacks a carbon price (which in part is what the stimulus and 2009/10 budget were). But I can’t see it doing anything close to what is needed.

  9. Eli Rabett says:

    Look Keith, MT, Eli, Stoat and a whole bunch of others including James Hansen were pushing Kelly’s not new found position in the mid to late 90s, but, as the saying goes, that was then, and the problems with climate disruption have become clearer and more immediate.¬† At this point more is needed.
     
    SNIP [DON’T PUT WORDS IN PEOPLE’S MOUTHS, UNLESS YOU WANT TO BACK IT UP WITH A DIRECT QUOTE.//KK]

  10. Keith Kloor says:

    Eli (9):

    Really? I must have missed that. Why haven’t been people reminding Paul of this, too?

    Could you could point me to some statements where MT, you, Stoat, and Hansen were pushing to take climate change out of the argument and emphasizing instead on energy transformation back in the mid-to-late 1990s. Surely there has to be a solid record of this.

  11. Steve Bloom says:

    PK gets ignored/mocked in part because he says ridiculous counter-factual things like the quote below, which oddly Keith reproduces without seeming to notice the lack of a connection to reality. 

    “Every government, every school from kindergarten through university, most newspapers and magazines and media outlets subscribe.”

  12. Steve Bloom says:

    As I’ve said before, if BTI is right the RES debate starting shortly will be a complete slam-dunk kumbaya moment.¬† I predict otherwise.¬† Keith,¬†this is your chance to put your credibility on the line.¬† ¬† ¬†

  13. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve, you’ve had over 20 years to fail. You expect a new approach to take off overnight? Did I ever say that?

  14. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    Dean (#8): Exactly. Economics is the dismal science, and much of the Break Through crowd, says, “Why so glum, chum?”
     
    Economics is difficult decisions about distributing scarce resources, but the book Break Through and much subsequent work from the institute seems to claim that we can have it all: save the planet and the economy by creating green jobs. Hemingway’s line comes to mind: “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

  15. thingsbreak says:

    Keith,
     
    You’re still pushing the idea that people aren’t jumping on the “breakthrough”/energy-rather-than-climate scheme because of territorial/tribal allegiance. You have no basis for doing so.
     
    The “breakthrough” scheme has not articulated how it will meaningfully address the climate problem absent obscene governmental interference in the energy market. That is why people aren’t willing to bet the future on it.
     
    I am more than happy to be persuaded. I have been persuaded to positions (e.g. IFR nukes, geoengineering research) that I initially opposed- I’m not an ideologue. I care about the results, not the road to them. Until the Paul Kellys and “breakthrough” boys explain how their solution keeps coal in the ground, it’s a non-starter. That has nothing to do with tribal allegiances or turf and everything to do with pragmatism.

  16. thingsbreak says:

    @Jonathan Gilligan #6
     
    Do you know of anyone who advocates emissions pricing who opposes clean energy investment? Like the adaptation issue, I find this to be a silly false dilemma. Yes, adaptation funding is necessary. Yes clean energy funding is necessary. I say we do both while also trying to get a price on emissions.
     
    You know who doesn’t want big clean energy investment? The Republican Party. You know, the people that we’re supposed to be able to reach a bi-/post-partisan agreement with about clean energy investment.

  17. Francis says:

    Well, we could go the route of EPA regulating CO2 emissions in the same manner as it does for S02.¬† So, possibly, that means no new coal plants built.¬† Of course, since New Source Review has been an utter failure, old plants will keep on running without retrofits.¬† (not that there’s any way to do a retrofit that reduces CO2 emissions.)

    Mostly, though, I see years upon years of litigation.¬† And as soon as there’s a Republican president, EPA’s authority will be gone in the breeze.

    Keith, instead of being quite so insulting to climate hawks, you might consider that Kelly has not actually proposed any kind of practical solution that shuts down coal plants in the US, much less world-wide.

  18. Paul Kelly says:

    Hello all,

    One of the reasons I enjoy commenting at stoat is the relatively slow pace of the threads accommodates my poor typing skills. I hope I can keep up here.

    Rocco….While everyone could benefit from a little Zen introspection,¬† what I’m proposing is a exercise is practical, rational problem solving.

    Eli is quite correct that my ideas are not all that new. My basic premise – that mitigation can and must come from actions whose primary purpose or benefit is something other than climate – is derived from a 25 year old quote from an early climate scientist/activist whose name I can’t recall and who has since passed away. I think the difference¬† between me and the people he mentioned is they were trying to reframe an argument and I am looking for a path of action.

    I don’t have much in common with Breakthrough. There are sufficient technologies available or in the near pipeline to bring significant transformation.¬† The problem, as kdk33 notes, is cost. Breakthrough and Pielke favor carbon taxes, which I oppose.

    Jonathan….I don’t in any way discount your concerns, but suggest it is more effective to focus on the hows of energy transformation than the why’s.¬† Rather than trying to convince the public to do things that don’t make economic sense, look for ways to reduce the cost of¬† alternatives.¬†

  19. thingsbreak says:

    @Francis #17:
     
    Now, now Francis. The point is not whether or not Paul Kelly, the “breakthrough” boys, et al. have “actually proposed any kind of practical solution”.
     
    It’s that people who are hesitant to jump on their bandwagon until they propose any kind of practical solution are “stubborn”,¬† “preening”, close-minded, and territorial for pointing out that they have failed to actual propose any kind of practical solution.
     
    Failure to blindly accept an un-articulated “solution” is apparently the height of obstinacy. ūüėČ

  20. thingsbreak says:

    @Paul Kelly #18
    I don’t in any way discount your concerns, but suggest it is more effective to focus on the hows of energy transformation than the why’s.¬† Rather than trying to convince the public to do things that don’t make economic sense, look for ways to reduce the cost of¬† alternatives.¬†

     
    How does massive decarbonization make “economic sense” as long as coal remains cheap and absent gargantuan (and by your “no carbon tax” policy, I presume unfunded) government subsidies?
     
    Thanks!

  21. Paul Kelly says:

    The only currently viable fossil free replacement for coal is nuclear. If you’re not willing to support building a sufficient number of reactors, maybe your commitment to eliminating coal isn’t all that strong.

  22. intrepid_wanders says:

    Paul Kelly Says:
    November 2nd, 2010 at 1:01 pm
    “The only currently viable fossil free replacement for coal is nuclear. If you’re not willing to support building a sufficient number of reactors, maybe your commitment to eliminating coal isn’t all that strong.”
     
    A man after my own heart.  I am amazed that so many will not even use nuclear as a stop-gap and willing to send civilizations into economic ruin to achieve this nuke-free ideal.

    Good luck Paul.

  23. Paul Kelly says:

    thingsbreak,
    I don’t think any of those things about those who haven’t jumped on my nonexistent bandwagon. I do think many are trapped in a box that makes winning an argument about climate science more important than reaching the goal of replacing fossil fuel. I’m simply offering a way out of the box.

  24. Roddy Campbell says:

    PK # 21 – yup.¬† If someone can’t even take that little step, they have no real practical commitment to reducing ghg emissions at all.¬† Except in their own ditzy heads.
    And the very strange thing is that there is a whole big industrialised country that has done it, gone nuclear, 79% of electricity generation is nuclear, so we know it works, we can see how it works.  It works.  And they have great food and wine.  Go and look, all you wind-farmers.
    The ‘green’ UK Minister in charge has cancelled wave power, and approved more nuclear – that’s something.
     

  25. Roddy Campbell says:

    ‘I do think many are trapped in a box that makes winning an argument about climate science more important than reaching the goal of replacing fossil fuel.’ – that’s very good.

  26. thingsbreak says:

    @Paul Kelly #21:
    The only currently viable fossil free replacement for coal is nuclear. If you’re not willing to support building a sufficient number of reactors, maybe your commitment to eliminating coal isn’t all that strong.
     
    As I mentioned previously (@15), I am actually a big proponent of IFR nukes. However, if you saying this in reply to my @20, I’m afraid it isn’t responsive. Coal is (even with billion USD plus subsidies for nukes) cheap and will be burned, exported, or turned into syngas. Subsidies for nuclear are opposed by conservative groups, such as the Heritage Foundation.
     
    How does massive decarbonization make “economic sense”¬Ě as long as coal remains cheap and absent gargantuan (and by your “no carbon tax”¬Ě policy, I presume unfunded) government subsidies? “Nuclear” isn’t actually a real answer.
     
    Keith, are you seeing the problem here?

  27. thingsbreak says:

    @Paul Kelly #22:
    I do think many are trapped in a box that makes winning an argument about climate science more important than reaching the goal of replacing fossil fuel.
     
    I don’t believe that this is at all the case. As I’ve previously said, I am in full agreement with Roger Pielke Jr. that that particular argument has already been won, at least at the levels that matter.
     
    Claiming that we need to decouple the energy argument from the climate argument without articulating how the climate problem gets solved (absent massive governmental interference in the energy market) is a dodge. It’s the Underpants Gnome business model:
    Phase 1: Collect Underpants Fund clean energy
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Profit Climate disaster averted
     
    Absent either a price on fossil fuels/emissions or enormous government welfare for clean energy, there is no incentive to leave coal in the ground. It, to borrow your phrase, doesn’t make economic sense.

  28. thingsbreak says:

    Formatting lost above. “Collect Underpants” and “Profit” should have been stuck through.

  29. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    @TB, #16: I agree with everything you write in this comment.
     
    You’re right. No one supports emissions pricing and opposes investing in clean energy. The only question is how we package it, both as legislation and to sell to the public. What we’re talking about is only arguments about legislative/PR strategy. That’s it.
     
    What I take that’s useful from Kelly, Pielke, and BTI is the idea that if we don’t say “climate,” it might be a lot easier to get the investment in clean energy that we all support through Congress.
     
    I see a lot of opposition to these kinds of proposals from folks who I think are saying, “But if we accept a clean-energy bill that’s not coupled to emissions pricing/capping, then we’ll never get the pricing/capping part enacted.” False dichotomy, I say, and I’m glad to see that you agree. I think we can have both and there’s no reason for us not to support anything we can get that will step up clean-energy investments.
     
    I also agree that there’s precious little chance of any bipartisanship from the GOP leadership, but I hope that if the public thinks we and the Dems are being reasonable and the GOP is being ridiculous, the GOP leaders might have to cave. Consider the example of¬† Rubio’s fast footwork on “Drill here, drill now!” earlier this year.

  30. Thanks TB for stating the simple fact so tirelessly!
     
    You have to wonder how people can still keep repeating the pixie dust arguments without addressing what, if it isn’t a fatal flaw, is at least the obvious question.
     
    Has public discourse always been this broken, or are we reaching new heights of foolishness?
     
    Keith, Paul, Roger, everybody: the carbon has to stay in the ground. New energy sources don’t suffice. You still have to eliminate the old ones (as well as the new ones which do damage: tar sands, fracking, maybe clathrates). Or you can figure out how to capture all the carbon (not some of it, all of it) in CO2 form and rebury that.
     
    Otherwise you gradually destroy the planet, okay? “Realistic” politics doesn’t matter if it’s based on unrealistic physics.
     
     

  31. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    Paul Kelly (#21): “The only currently viable fossil free replacement for coal is nuclear.”
     
    But nuclear is a heck of a lot more expensive than coal, and a much riskier investment for the utility company. What reason other than fear of CO2 emissions is there to justify spending lots of money on nuclear power? I always have a hard time with the argument that an energy initiative not connected to climate has any incentive not to be maximally fossil-fuel intensive since coal is so very cheap.
     
    The same applies to CCS. If we’re not talking about climate change in the context of the energy bill, would there be any reason whatsoever to include CCS in the portfolio?
     
    Roger Pielke has argued that concerns over the environmental impact of coal mining and regional air quality near coal-burning plants would be sufficient to drive a move away from coal, but I’m not convinced there’s enough political traction to make this anything other than a minor NIMBY issue.
     
    I’m open to the argument you’re making, and I’m trying hard to read it as sympathetically as I can, but I really don’t understand how it accomplishes nearly as much as its advocates promise in terms of moving, albeit slowly, toward a low-carbon economy.

  32. kdk33 says:

    I seem to want to say: you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig, even if it’s a little pig.

    Packaged any way you like, I wouldn’t expect the GOP to cooperate on any decarbonization¬†program for the simple reason that the GOP (in general, individuals may vary) don’t see a need to decarbonize.

    But, hey, give it a shot.

  33. PDA says:

    Otherwise you gradually destroy the planet, okay?
     
    Thanks, Dr. Tobis, for giving Fuller & Co. a stick to beat you with for the next few dozen comments.

  34. thingsbreak says:

    Jonathan,
     
    Let’s just say that I hope you’re right and I’m wrong about the prospects of clean energy funding (decoupled from climate or not). I will certainly do my part to support it, increased adaptation awareness and funding, and geoengineering research.
     
    In the mean time, I’m happy to hear why I am supposed to support an energy fund/not emissiosn pricing scheme as a viable climate solution. Maybe someone will deign to answer that without hand-waving or trolling for book sales. Hey, don’t laugh! It could happen.
     
    I see a lot of opposition to these kinds of proposals from folks who I think are saying, “But if we accept a clean-energy bill that’s not coupled to emissions pricing/capping, then we’ll never get the pricing/capping part enacted.”¬Ě False dichotomy, I say
     
    I have seen opposition to the explicit framing of such as an actual dichotomy. I myself object to such a frame for the reasons explained above.

  35. thingsbreak says:

    @PDA
    They’re fully committed to ignoring the substance of his comments in lieu of his phrasing with or without that particular line.
     
    It never fails to amuse me how people who are willing to accept that the politic0-economic preferences of a populace during a sliver of time are literally as immutable as the laws of thermodynamics can get their noses so out of joint when someone shorthands “planet” for “planetary norms to which we and a great deal of the Earth system are presently accustomed”.

  36. rustneversleeps says:

    I know, I know, it’s not keeping with the spirit of “energy transformation” without “climate concerns”… but I really wish that the “Trillionth Tonne”¬†framing had gotten some traction – the way it explicitly¬†articulates some sort of “remaining budget” of carbon emissions.

    Because, if, as BTI and¬†RPJr and others acknowledge, we must¬† get our emissions down; or, if, as Paul Kelly suggests, they will somehow¬†go down all by themselves if we just stopped focussing so much on them…¬†then it should actually be¬†rather trivial to make the “climate concerned” shut up just by showing them how the “energy transformation” or “post-partisan power” approaches achieve something that satisfies the trillionth-tonne-type objectives.

    As thingsbreak says: “show your work”. Show some plausible transformation¬†scenarios how we get from roughly 16 terawatts of global power now – of which ~ 12 terawatts¬†is fossil fuel based –¬†such that the¬†“area under the curve”, the cumulative emissions, doesn’t exceed those thresholds.

    I’m all ears!¬†Come to momma! Answer my prayers!¬†

    Just lay it out. Show why and how utilities will start spontaneously investing in nuclear and shuttering coal to the scale required, under the current economics. Show why and how builders (and buyers) will suddenly start demanding efficiency improvements for their homes and buildings under the current pricing that will be sufficient to decrease fossil fuel based heating and cooling (all the while providing for growing demand). Etc., etc.

    What signals are they responding to? (‘Cause we know we can’t be telling them about “climate concerns” ’cause they don’t care about that, after all!)¬†What “breakthroughs” might be driving all this?

    Seriously, I am asking, how is this supposed to actually work?¬†‘Cause I would definitely sign up, if persuaded.

    But if the answer is “well, we really don’t have that part quite worked out yet” (a la thingsbreak¬†“Step 2”), then why should the¬†“climate concerned” possibly just stand aside on that kind of¬†“assurance”???¬†¬†¬†

  37. PDA says:

    thingsbreak, agreed. My previous experiment in “sanitizing” was an abysmal failure, so I’ll let Tobis be Tobis…

  38. intrepid_wanders says:

    Well, there everyone has it. ¬†Coal WILL NOT just remain in the ground, and as Keith has stated, “We are all DOOMED”.
     
    Diplomacy has been observed to be an agreement of compromises that nobody is happy with.  I believe we are there.
     
    Good luck with the campaign!

  39. AllenC says:

    What fascinates me is what the Chinese are doing.  They are building the lowest cost electrical generation and distribution system they can.  Of course they recognize the limits they have on resources to continue to generate cheap electricity (such as coal), so they are buying up those resources in foreign lands, when it makes sense.  They are also building large hydro-electric facilities (Three Gorges Dam) and numerous nuclear generating facilities.

    Do they ‘believe’ the AGW Hypothesis?¬† By their actions, one would say “no”.¬† But by their word (and by blocking “skeptic’s” blogs), they accept the AGW Hypothesis.¬† Why the dissonance?¬† There really is no dissonance.¬† If they can get the developed World to commit economic suicide by having them adopt “de-carbonization” schemes (thus increasing their cost of electricity and energy), then China will have a huge economic advantage.¬† It really amounts to the double strategy of a strong offense (minimize one’s own cost of generating electricity) and a strong defense (increase the cost of your “competitor’s” generating costs).

    I really think if more effort was spent on the issue of minimizing the long-run cost of generating electricity, then the “developed” World will maximize the wealth of the citizens (afterall, poverty is a much larger problem than a couple of degrees of temperature rise).

  40. Dean says:

    More arguments about the role of nuclear are about as boring as possible since we’ve all seen them countless times before. For some people, nuclear is the litmus test. For others, carbon pricing it the litmus test. It seems to me that since, in fact, nuclear is not too cheap to meter, that it doesn’t obviate the carbon price issue as MT points out. Nonetheless, even if we grant that it could out-compete coal on an equal basis, how does it fix transportation issues? And agriculture?

  41. David44 says:

    #3 kdk33 says:
    The path to decarbonization is clear “‚Äú not easy, but clear.
    Find something cheaper.
     
    Meanwhile, the thorium nuclear fuel cycle hides in plain sight.

  42. Sigh. OK, I’ll admit “gradually destroy the biosphere” is more correct than “gradually destroy the planet”. Thanks for the correction. I’m not sure it has the same ring to it. ¬†I sort of assumed that most readers were more or less near-surface types, and so it would suffice to much up the surface really badly to constitute destruction.
     
    You’d think people would realize I wasn’t actually talking about a new asteroid belt.
     
    PDA, what do you think the world actually looks like a thousand years after all the fossil fuel is released?
     

  43. “much” should read “muck”. And sorry about my insensitivity to the magma-dwelling mole people.
     

  44. AMac says:

    PDA #37
    > My previous experiment in “sanitizing”¬Ě was an abysmal failure
    Was not!¬† Everybody didn’t play nice, but arguments got separated from personality issues.¬† It helped.

  45. Francis says:

    On nuclear power:
    Last I checked, this was still a democracy.¬† That means the voters, bless their collectively utterly irrational souls, get to do really stupid things.¬† Like shut down nuclear reactors after billions have been spent but before any power is generated.¬† See, eg, WPPSS (pronounced “whoops” for obvious reasons) and Shoreham Nuclear Power plant.
    Things are so bad that the federal govt needs to hand out billions in loan guarantees to get nuke plants financed.¬† (note that it’s the Obama Admin that’s making the guarantees, but the law authorizing the guarantees was passed in 2005, under the Bush admin.¬† Natural gas was and is so cheap that even under the Bush admin not a single power company filed an application with the NRC for a nuke plant.)¬† According to the NRC’s website, it is processing applications for a grand total of 31 nuke plants.¬† The web page does not list the total expected generating capacity.
    Also, where are we going to put the waste?¬† More broadly, when are we going to have a legislative process that definitively selects a waste site?¬† (My personal choice is on the surface someplace really really dry, like outside of Death Valley, surrounded by a big army base, but as I’m not a senator my vote doesn’t count.)
    So sure, I’d be delighted to see the US voluntarily decarbonize its electricity production without some kind of law that forces the coal plants to capture their externality of CO2 production.¬† It just seems really unlikely.

  46. PDA says:

    Dr. Tobis, I withdrew my earlier quibble, though it’s a pet peeve of mine. I always want to tell people crying “save the Earth” that the Earth will be fine, at least in geological time: it’s us that need saving.
    And yes, I’m sure that most if not all of them know, as do you and I, that climate disruption will not make Earth go the way of Planet Pha√ɬęton. But it’s imprecise, even if “Save The Earth (In A Condition Under Which Humans And Most Species On Earth Can Live)” lacks euphony.
    As for the climate at 1000+ ppm… late Triassic without sauropods, maybe? Hot dry continents + acid seas?

  47. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    MT (#42): If people want to quibble about what we’re destroying, perhaps we should consult the Republican experts: Frank Luntz puts it thus: “when you ask voters are they more concerned about destroying their environment over the next hundred years or rehabilitating their economy over the next 100 weeks, they’ll choose the economy over the environment any day.”

  48. Paul Kelly says:

    MT,
    Okay, we have to leave the coal in the ground. We’ve only 30 to 50 years to do it. Now, if we speak not one more word of climate and can focus our brains on the goal of no coal, perhaps we can find a path.
    It should be clear that the global/state CO2 suppression approach will not be implemented. Each day continuing to advocate that approach is a day wasted.
    The climate problem will get solved if, and only if, the next 30 to 50 years bring an energy transformation that replaces fossil fuels. There are many valid reasons that necessitate the transformation, each suggesting a different path. Climate is but one of them.
     
    Thingbreak
    Yes the argument has been won, yet so many of the winners want to continue it. They’re in the box.
     
     

  49. willard says:

    Sigh.  Another interesting thread to read.  More mudslinging please.  I want to sleep.

  50. kdk33 says:

    @David44,

    “Meanwhile, the thorium nuclear fuel cycle hides in plain sight.”

    If it’s the cheapest way to light my McMansion, then I’m all for it!¬† I’m a militant cheap energy Hawk.

  51. Marlowe Johnson says:

    “It should be clear that the global/state CO2 suppression approach will not be implemented. Each day continuing to advocate that approach is a day wasted.”
     
    here’s a win win. biochar soil amendment funded through itnernational development agencies to sequester carbon and improve ag productivity in the parts of the world that need it most. oh wait, it doesn’t do anything to make energy cheaper for the indians or the chinese.¬† ah well.
     
    how about a white roofs campaign?

  52. kdk33 says:

    “how about a white roofs campaign?”

    You’d have to clear it with the property owners association – deed restrictions and all that.

  53. PDA says:

    There are many valid reasons that necessitate the transformation, each suggesting a different path.
     
    Such as? Let me join my voice to rustneversleeps in asking if you have anything other than thingsbreak‘s Step 2 in mind here.

  54. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    @JG #29
    “You’re right. No one supports emissions pricing and opposes investing in clean energy.”
    I do, but then it may be because of your next sentence regarding the way it’s packaged. Germany’s just done something interesting along these lines, as RPjr notes-
    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/11/germanys-nuclear-bridge-to-tomorrows.html
    Where they’re extending the life of their nuclear plant, introducing a fuel rod tax and the creation of an environmental fund with money from the nuclear generators. Purpose is for the promotion of an environmentally-friendly, reliable and affordable energy supply.
    If the EKFG is used to do sensible things, like fund R&D into new or improved energy, or energy efficiency then that seems a good use of emissions pricing/fuel levvies. If it’s to build more windmills or fit more solar panels, then it’s a pointless subsidy. I can’t read German so don’t know the details of the new legislation.
    So I support emissions pricing, but only if the money is invested in sensible alternatives, and the emissions pricing is economically sustainable. Spending the money on windfarms or solar in my opinion (and in the UK) is just money wasted because the solutions aren’t fit for purpose.
    As Paul Kelly says though in #48 “Yes the argument has been won, yet so many of the winners want to continue it. They’re in the box.” But some people (at least in the UK) may be moving out of the traditional ‘green’ box and suggesting maybe nuclear isn’t such a bad idea after all. Problem is overcoming decades of opposition and vested interests (from all sides) which have made people cynical and sceptical. If there hadn’t been such a hard sell around global warming, changing people’s views would be a whole lot easier.

  55. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    TB (#34): “In the mean time, I’m happy to hear why I am supposed to support an energy fund/not emissiosn pricing scheme as a viable climate solution. ”
     
    I think I’m expressing myself badly or something. We’re in violent agreement here.
     
    I don’t think it’s possible to solve the climate problem without capping and/or pricing emissions.
     
    But I don’t see any harm in supporting RPj, Kelly, TBI, or whomever as they lobby for clean energy. Can’t hurt.
     
    But nowhere am I saying that we can afford to stop pushing for the other half of the policy, which is to address GHG emissions explicitly.
     
    The only issue here is that it might be possible to get a decent clean energy bill through Congress while we’re simultaneously trying to figure out a better strategy than the one we’ve used for the past few decades to convince the public to support clean and expensive energy instead of cheap and dirty.

  56. Tom Fuller says:

    Well, once again we have the same mission creep. Tobis, back from his one-day purdah for unspeakably vile behaviour, wants us to think that the biosphere is doomed because of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
     
    But he’s among the very few hysterics who believe that. In addition to trashing everyone who disagrees with him, he cheapens the discourse by saying ‘my way or extinction,’ a position not supported by mainstream scientists or the literature.
     
    He’s making stuff up. And the motive is to prevent discussions such as the one taking place on this thread.
     
    I actually hope to have something relevant to contribute to this soon. I am working on another report on energy efficiency, and I think the numbers I am seeing will cheer most people up. Not Tobis, of course. But that’s okay. He can vent his spleen on some other unsuspecting victim–hey Paul Kelly! It might be your turn next.
     
    But I’m a couple of days away from having numbers together. So, wonder of wonders, Tobis can have a clear field for his brand of fun.

    [I WOULD HAVE INTERCEDED AT THIS COMMENT AS OPPOSED TO THE NEXT ONE BY FULLER BUT I WAS OFFLINE. JONATHAN GILLIGAN’S REACTION REFLECTS MY OWN ONCE I GOT BACK ONLINE./KK]

  57. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    @AH (#54): You do understand the scope of the problem? As Nathan Lewis has pointed out, just to provide the next 50 years’ growth in electricity demand, worldwide, from nuclear (not replacing the current demand), we’d have to commission one 1000 MW plant every other day forever, starting the day after tomorrow. Why forever, if we’re just talking about 50 years of demand growth? Because a plant’s typical lifetime is 50 years, so two days after the last plant goes on line, the first one needs to be decommissioned and replaced. And then you need to start dealing with the next 50 years of demand growth. And the 50 years after that…
     
    All of this would raise the demand for enriched uranium by about a factor of 25, which would have a non-negligible impact on supply and price (IFRs might help, but are we ready to start deploying those in the next couple of years?)
     
    I’m all for deploying nukes as fast as we reasonably can in order to decarbonize, but I have no illusion that we can remotely build them quickly enough to solve our energy and climate problems.

  58. Jonathan Gilligan says:

    @TF: “he’s among the very few hysterics …. In addition to trashing everyone who disagrees with him, he cheapens the discourse …¬† He’s making stuff up … He can vent his spleen on some other unsuspecting victim… ”
     
    Way to elevate the discourse! Lead by example and whatnot.

  59. rustneversleeps says:

    Shorter Tom:

    Paragraph 1: Tobis is a bad guy.
    Paragraph 2: Tobis is a bad guy.
    Paragraph 3: Tobis is a bad guy.
    Paragraph 4: I hope that I may have something relevant to contribute soon. (By the way, did I mention that Tobis is a bad guy?)
    Paragraph 5: It may take me a few days to contribute something relevant. (In the meantime, watch out! Tobis is a bad guy.)

    Gee, Tom, thanks for that helpful update! Yawn.

  60. Tom Fuller says:

    I’m not leading, Jonathan, I’m responding to a SNIP who gratuitously insulted Dr. Judith Curry, continuing a pattern of behaviour that has resulted in the sliming of a number of people, including myself.
     
    Did you read the SNIP Tobis posted on his website? There is nothing I have said about Tobis since that approaches his level of SNIP. He took this down to the gutter. Until he apologises to Curry, that’s all he gets from me.
     
    I’m really sorry if that interferes with your enjoyment of this discussion. Just pass over my name if you want.

  61. thingsbreak says:

    @Jonathan Gilligan #55:
    I think I’m expressing myself badly or something.
     
    Not at all.
     
    We’re in violent agreement here.

    I know! I agree!
     
    I don’t see any harm in supporting RPj, Kelly, TBI, or whomever as they lobby for clean energy. Can’t hurt.
     
    And I agree, with the provision that I object to their plan as a viable climate solution proposed as an actual explicit alternative to aggressive emissions pricing. Others (not you) have presented an actual (rather than false) choice between the “breakthrough” boys and emissions pricing, and I cannot support that.
     
    it might be possible to get a decent clean energy bill through Congress while we’re simultaneously trying to figure out a better strategy than the one we’ve used for the past few decades to convince the public to support clean and expensive energy instead of cheap and dirty.
     
    Well, if the GOP are to be believed, a truly aggressive clean energy push is as dead as cap and trade for the immediate future. I guess we can always hope that they aren’t going to do what they say they are going to. ūüôā

  62. Dean says:

    “Just pass over my name if you want.”
     
    Is there a Firefox plugin that filters blog comments by contributor?
     
    There’s an app that would be popular.

  63. Keith Kloor says:

    Tom Fuller: You’re totally out of line. You came into a new thread that was productive and you’re poisoning it. For no reason but to indulge your personal war with Michael Tobis.

    Now you’ve forced my hand. I’ll have to moderate you until you can moderate yourself. If you take offense, then take a break from this blog. Or email me offline and we’ll discuss. But you’re out of this thread unless you can be civil.

  64. thingsbreak says:

    Oh great. I see a threadsh|t is in progress. Lovely.

  65. Keith Kloor says:

    It’s Willard’s fault (49). He asked for “mudslinging.” ūüôā

    Ok, folks, carry on. Nothing to see here. ūüôā

  66. David44 says:

    kdk33 @ #49
    It may very well be.
    See:  Energy cheaper than from coal
    http://energyfromthorium.com/2010/07/11/ending-energy-poverty/

  67. kdk33 says:

    My watch says polls are closing on the west coast…

    I’m gonna holster my pistol, grab my bible, and ride my 4X4 suburban down to the church to sip whiskey, sing hymns, and watch the returns under the warm light of too many incandescent bulbs.

    Happy Election Day!

  68. Keith Kloor says:

    kdk33:

    I enjoy self-parody as much as the next guy, but what is that adding to this discussion?

  69. Tom Fuller says:

    Well, Keith, sorry I’ve been a bother. I’ll take a permanent leave of absence, as a forum where Tobis gets off scot-free for his behaviour and I end up in moderation for calling him on it just doesn’t suit me.
     
    You’ve got plenty of bright people dropping by and I’m sure you’ll get on fine without me. But at some point you should take a look at the choices you are making.
     
    I wasn’t vulgar, didn’t use profanity, and merely refused to let Tobis’ behaviour sink into yesterday’s news. But apparently as long as you’re still getting people like him, Rabett, PDA and thingsbreak you can still call yourself fair and balanced.
     
    So, okay–there’s another media outfit that calls themselves fair and balanced and I don’t frequent their outlets either. No hard feelings and best of luck.

    [Tom-It astonishes me that you fail to see how you brought this on yourself. I gave you plenty of leeway in a recent previous thread that played off one of Tobis’s posts. That was already going over the boundaries. But this is a brand new thread where he is nominally a participant and you come over and continue with your ugly characterizations of him. If it’s that obvious what his sins are against Judith Curry, then they should be obvious for all to see. Calling him all sorts of names just adds more fuel. It’s completely counterproductive. I’ve repeatedly asked you to not wage your private blog battles at my site–be they against Gavin Schmidt or Tobis or whoever.

    So you haven’t respected my house rules and now you want to take your ball and play somewhere else. Fine. But just so you know: when you’re not letting your anger get the best of you, you have a lot of smart things to say about energy issues. I hope when you calm down a bit that you’ll find your way back. //Keith]

  70. Lewis says:

    Keith, I love the new metaphors of ‘climate hawks’ and ‘climate doves’. It gets away from the nonsense of ‘warmists’ and ‘sceptics’ or, worse, ‘deniers’ and point to the essence of the ‘dispute’, ie, it is political and not about the science. More, it excludes those (forgive us!) who are merely obdurate and includes those who recognise the evidence of a problem, however we quantify it. ‘Luke warmers’ and all.

  71. kdk33 says:

    @KK 68

    (yea, you caught me looking)

    It reminds people that there is, today, an election in the US.  That election bears directly on the issue at hand: a politically palatable means of pushing a decarbonization agenda (see numerous references to GOP, congress, etc).

    It is also a caricature for those who seek to cast tea party GOP types exactly as I have portrayed myself Рthat would include you.  We are not ignorant bigots with no legitimate political agenda.  If you find my caraciture unpleasing, then refrain from painting it.

    Lastly…

    IT’S JUST A JOKE.¬† Get over it.¬†¬†¬†

    I promise to refrain in the future.

  72. Lewis says:

    Indeed, kdk33, but your joke is lost upon us! Sorry.

  73. Lewis says:

    Actually, this night seems worst than expected for the dems but this is of topic. Sorry

  74. kdk33 says:

    @71

    Yea, you’re right.¬† Over the top.¬† My bad.

  75. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    @JG #57
    “You do understand the scope of the problem?”
    Partially, and some of it is caused by apathy, vested interests and an irrational fear of nuclear. Unfortunately many of those interests are on the same side as the people that have been telling us we have to decarbonise *now*.
    But scoping the problem is always part of the problem. UK’s problem is we have old coal stations that need to close to meet EU emissions directives. We could ignore those directives and keep them running. We could replace them with¬† more modern, efficient and cleaner coal stations. But we tried that, and green NGO’s shut that down despite the new Kingsnorth coal station potentially reducing CO2 emissions by 20% compared to the coal stations it might have replaced.
    Meeting the EU obligations to close coal means we need around 10-12GW of new generation just to stand still. That’s mostly baseload generation that wind or solar can’t deliver, but the 10 new nuclear stations proposed could. We’d need another 16 or so to replace the existing nuclear stations scheduled to close by 2030, or could possibly extend their life. Call that 30GW needed for BAU by 2030. NGO’s tell us we can replace that with wind. So that would be around 60,000 5MW windmills @10% load factor. Which still can’t provide baseload and would still need massive expenditure on grid upgrades to cope with inherent intermittency.
    Substituting 1GW of coal for 1GW of nuclear seems so much easier, and so much more reliable. But we can’t do that because we’ve had decades of anti-nuclear lobbying.
     
    “All of this would raise the demand for enriched uranium by about a factor of 25, which would have a non-negligible impact on supply and price”
     
    True, because there aren’t that many countries that have invested in fuel enrichment and/or reprocessing. Fuel availability is just one part of the problem though. There are also more pragmatic issues, like availability of nuclear engineers. Or steel, which needs lots of electricity, which we’re making artificially expensive so the UK’s lost most of it’s steel industry and rejected a loan to Forgemasters so the UK could benefit from demand for large forgings.
    So it’s quite a challenge, especially as other parts of the world are going the nuclear route. UK’s vacilated for so long and lost most of it’s domestic capability that it’ll be at the back of the queue. Or building and replacing a never ending stream of windmills between now and 2050 because they don’t last anywhere near 50 years.
     
    UK’s problem seems to be we’re happy to waste money on dead-end technology rather than fixing the immediate problem with the most immediately practical solution to solve our ‘energy gap’, then invest in pragmatic R&D so over the next 50 years, energy efficiency or energy generation has improved. Developing countries aren’t going to do that, they’ll be looking for the cheapest generation for the maximum economic gain, and they aren’t building windmills (for their own power needs).

  76. Marlowe Johnson says:

    I’ll take a permanent leave of absence, as a forum where Tobis gets off scot-free for his behaviour and I end up in moderation for calling him on it just doesn’t suit me.”
     
    Now I’m not one to normally advocate censorship but when it’s suggested as a form of self help…
     
    please, please oblige him Keith.¬† Despite what he may think he has to offer, his signal/noise is just way to counterproductive to normal adult conversation. There are lots of other places on the web where he can indulge in his content-free trolling….

  77. Eli Rabett says:

    The white roof movement has won.  Use Google maps and fly in on most cities in the US.

  78. Paul Kelly says:

    Let me join my voice to rustneversleeps in asking if you have anything in mind here other than thingsbreak‘s Step 2 .
    Step 2: ?
    The first question I had was what is the greatest impediment to energy transformation? Without doubt it is the high upfront cost versus the time needed to break even. So step one is toward a focus on reducing the cost of deploying modern efficiencies and technologies.
    Question two was given that top down solutions cannot be implemented, what would a bottom up approach look like? It would most likely happen outside the political sphere. It would allow individuals to use small purchases to affect prices in the marketplace.
    My personal “step 2” is organizing a replacing fossil fuel association. I encourage everyone to join by supporting our Deployment Partner. Leo High School is a small urban high school in Chicago. The association is participating in a year long effort to provide new windows and doors for the school’s 90 year old building.

  79. Eli Rabett says:

    What Marlowe said.  MT is about the nicest person you could meet.  His hallmark over the fifteen or so years that I have been aware of him is a seriousness and his willingness to listen, always, to consider another point of view (note, consider not adopt).  As a result Michael can, and often is jerked around by the sophists, but no one is perfect.  Tom Fuller and Co. have been conducting a jihad against Michael.  Why, because MT exposes the Fuller and his friends emptiness.  Recently, as Tobis has become more prominent, the drive bys have increased.

    [Eli-You’re the last person who should be lecturing Tom Fuller, given your history of thread-jacking insults and name-calling of the same order (do you have a “jihad” against RPJ?)–which is why you are on eternal moderation.//KK]

  80. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    Re PK #77
    I think part of the problem (at least in the UK) are the disconnects between policies. We seem to have the taxing part down well, but not where to invest the money, or how to have joined up policies that benefit step 1 and 2.
    Some examples. A friend built a loft conversion and used the most efficient insulation he could buy. Building inspectors told him to replace it because it wasn’t code compliant. Our building codes specify a minimum thickness, not a minimum efficiency.
    Another friend wanted to replace old doors and windows in their property to improve insulation. They were not permitted because they live in a conservation area. If people live in listed properties the situation is more complex, and more expensive. There is as far as I can tell no compensation or subsidy to people facing higher costs because conservation requirements have been imposed on them.
    In 2012, the UK will host the Olympics. London businesses have been advised to send their workers home, and warned they may face electricity supply disruption or for some East London datacentres, no supply. The UK’s also introduced the ‘Carbon Reduction Committment’ or CRC, which means energy users =>6,000MWh per annum will have to buy carbon credits. Originally there were going to be rebates for the most efficient users, but the rebates have been scrapped making it a tax. Datacentres are typically more efficient for businesses looking to host servers than building and running their own IT facilities, so shared power and HVAC rather than dedicated. This doesn’t count, and datacentres get no exemptions, just rising costs from both carbon taxes and electricity. Naturally datacentres are looking to close or relocate offshore where costs are lower, and it’s easy to do given it typically adds a few ms latency in exchange for large opex reductions. There can be other advantages, like moving data into a jurisdiction that has better or worse data protection laws, depending on pov.
    So IMHO, disconnects between steps 1 & 2 have turned the UK into a basket case, and the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. In the US, I think it’ll be interesting to watch what happens in California now that Prop 23 has failed, and whether that will lead to a business exodus or not.

  81. Barry Woods says:

    Thomas Fuller seems to have a lot more attention and shall we say ‘non-constructive’ criticism by the usual warmest bloggers, since his recent guest posts on Watts Up…

    He really should take the attention as heartwarming, he has had a bigger forum to discuss what he is interested in (I’m not as ‘lukewarm’ as Tom) and that would appear to have upset many ie more people might listen to him.

    I¬†haven’t done my own blog yet, but I have a guest post now on Watts Up….. I may do a few more from a UK perspective, if Anthony indulges me.

    As I said, all those bloggers piling on abuse is just totally counter-productive now, whilst it may have worked pre-climategate,¬†not any more.¬†I have been called a deniar to my face, courtesy of a multi-million pound green organisation in the UK, so I’m now¬†motivated enought to argue back..

    Things look different in the UK, ALL politicans are AGW consensus politicians, to me the whole hawks/dove idea is meaningless in the non-USA context.

    The ‘climate fools’ were the UK MP’s that voted for the Climate Change Act, 2 years ago.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/02/who-are-the-climate-fools-climate-fools-day/

  82. Lazar says:

    AP:
    “Proposition 23 sought to postpone the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, which would impose industrial emission limits starting in 2012 and mandate fossil fuel energy reductions by 2020.
    Backed by oil companies and refiners, Proposition 23 called for delaying implementation until California’s unemployment rate holds steady at 5.5 percent for a year, a feat that has occurred just three times in three decades.”

    Results, LATimes;

    Proposition – 23 – Suspend pollution laws – Ballot Issue

    California – 23209 of 24845 Precincts Reporting – 93%

    Name
    Votes
    Vote %

    No
    4,222,060
    61%

    Yes
    2,658,278
    39%

  83. Gene says:

    This quote, from 79 above, is IMHO one of, if not, the biggest impediments to action:

    “The UK’s also introduced the “ňúCarbon Reduction Committment’ or CRC, which means energy users =>6,000MWh per annum will have to buy carbon credits. Originally there were going to be rebates for the most efficient users, but the rebates have been scrapped making it a tax.”

    Revenue grabs by governments (and no, I have no realistic idea on how one would stop them) imperil the credibility this type of program.¬† There’s too many examples of “dedicated” funds being diverted to other concerns.

  84. PDA says:

    I’m not a fan of Fuller’s, but attacking someone who’s under moderation is dirty pool. Let’s not, please.
    Paul Kelly, why do you think anyone would drop advocacy of mitigation in favor of “a replacing fossil fuel association?” Can you understand that most will find this awfully weak tea as a way forward on climate change issues?
    I’m sorry, but this seems to be mere handwaving. If what you’re saying is that a focus on energy transformation may have some success, but a continued focus on mitigation is likely to be stymied indefinitely, that’s fine. It’s not at all an unreasonable observation.
    Absent any details, however, it’s just an Underpants Gnome Business Plan.

  85. Dean says:

    With the new makeup of the us govt, if a policy that is just pro-alternative is possible, then my guess is that it will happen, whether or not climate hawks are convinced. But I’m skeptical that even that is likely now. The US Govt is going struggle to just keep the doors open over the next two years, as both sides jockey for 2012. Some Rs are likely to demand that Obama agree to a health care reform repeal in order to avoid a govt shutdown.

  86. Lazar says:

    How Assembly Bill 32 was primarily framed… “The Global Warming Solutions Act”… “Landmark Legislation to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions“… “When I campaigned for governor three years ago, I said I wanted to make California No. 1 in the fight against global warming. This is something we owe our children and our grandchildren,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger at signing ceremonies in San Francisco and Los Angeles.” .. California EPA… “reduce greenhouse gases
     
    … passed with 61% public support… at a time of economic mess in CA… against a fossil fueled backed PR campaign claiming dire economic consequences

  87. Lazar says:

    “MT is about the nicest person you could meet.”
    … channelling Full Metal Jacket?
    mt, just kidding, xxx

  88. Lazar says:

    Note the press release claim…
    “the state is the 12th largest emitter of carbon in the world”

  89. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Incidentally, I raised the biochar and white roof examples precisely because they are climate mitigation strategies that aren’t directly related to the energy discussion.¬† Both of them are relatively low cost (esp in the developing world) and yet would be completely overlooked by an clean energy or energy security framing of the issue.
     
    With the current election results I wouldn’t be surprised if the republicans push for more coal to liquids research as it would sell in coal-rich states and provide a nice soundbite on energy security.¬† too bad it’s a terrible climate solution.

  90. AMac says:

    I like this thread.¬† Some of the ideas are new to me… I have to think s’more before saying anything insightful.
    With that skip-the-rest-of-this-comment preamble, I recommend yesterday’s short blog post by conservative Randall Parker (aka ParaPundit), Electoral Outcomes And The Economy.¬† Parker supplies some good links in support of his thesis–in particular, the books at “why the economy will stay in the dumps and get even worse” and “a trend bigger than the policies of either party“.
    For all that he and I disagree, Michael Tobis is probably the A-list climateblogger whose perspective would enable him to sift through the implications of Parker’s gloomy thesis.¬† Some of them, anyway.

  91. Lazar says:

    Paul Kelly,
     
    “what would a bottom up approach look like? It would most likely happen outside the political sphere […] organizing a replacing fossil fuel association”
     
    I seriously like this approach… individualistic, appeals to our better angels… and compared to waiting for election cycles and petitioning the corruption… is more proactive and involving, less depressing… involvement builds support… raises awareness.. changes priorities… go for it… it’s not *the* solution… but I’ll take a percent of a percent any day

  92. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    re Gene #83
    Being the UK, we go a stage further. Many of the large energy users will be our schools and hospitals which will have to divert money away from education or health into energyefficiency or carbon trading. Being what they are, there are limited opportunities to make significant energy savings if they’re old buildings. Newer ones will probably be PFI deals, so privately built and financed and leased back to us so the capex was kept off our public balance sheet. The customer, so the taxpayer will no doubt end up paying more in service charges for energy but there’s no real incentive for the PFICo to make any improvements because they can simply pass on the costs.
     
    “There’s too many examples of “dedicated”¬Ě funds being diverted to other concerns.”
     
    That’s always been the problem. Vested interests have lobbied effectively for rent-seeking activities like wind,¬† solar or forced carbon trading and have been helped along by the useful idiots at the green NGO’s. Some in the UK seem to be slowly realising some ‘green’ schemes aren’t such a great idea after all though.

  93. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    Re MJ #89
    “Incidentally, I raised the biochar and white roof examples precisely because they are climate mitigation strategies that aren’t directly related to the energy discussion”
     
    The UK used to do biochar in-situ with stubble burning. That got banned as being polluting, and given black carbon, maybe it was. I also like the idea of simple things like roof painting, but ideally they’d need to be smarter. I want a black roof when it’s cold so I can capture heat, then white when it’s hotter to reflect it. Could be doable now with ‘smart glass’ tiling and might even be something useful to do with recycled glass. Not exactly cheap though. Same’s true of smart glass for windows to control heat/light. Some businesses use it, consumers less so because it’s currently expensive. And there’s no incentive for housing developers to fit practical energy saving technology if it increases their costs and reduces profits. Especially on ‘affordable’ homes, who’s residents will be least able to afford to retrofit it and most vulnerable to rising energy costs.
     

  94. Marlowe Johnson says:

    @93
    cool roofs of course make less sense the further away you are from the equator.  a good presentation can be found here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/commissioners/rosenfeld_docs/2010-05-10_ROSENFELD_LEVINSON.ppt
     
     
     
    Black carbon is indeed an issue for biochar production and many companies are working on cleaner pyrolosis technologies that improve on the traditional burn and bury approach:
    http://www.biochar-international.org/technology/stoves
     
     

  95. Paul Kelly says:

    PDA
    “If what you’re saying is that a focus on energy transformation may have some success, but a continued focus on mitigation is likely to be stymied indefinitely”
    That’s exactly what I’m saying. Well,¬† instead of mitigation, I’d say climate based approach.¬† And no one has to drop mitigation advocacy. But understand, continuing to advocate that which cannot and will not happen rather than shifting focus to actual deployment and cost reduction is detrimental to achieving the goal.

  96. PDA says:

    Paul, you have no way of knowing what “cannot and will not happen;” you have, at best, a subjective assessment of its likelihood of occurring. And understand: my assessment of what’s possible might really not be too far from your own. There’s no way to even begin to assess your proposal, though, without specifics.

  97. Paul Kelly says:

    PDA,
    Here’s the specifics. Send a $10 check to Leo High School 7901 S. Sangamon st.; Chicago IL, 60620. Write energy fund on the memo line. You are now an active part of the solution.

  98. Alexander Harvey says:

    Paul,

    I much favour doing what can be done, and starting as soon as possible. There are a lot of steps, but could I gather support for the notion that if we are going to be burning fossil fuels for a long time to come, it might be a good idea to clean up the emissions, aerosols, carbon, etc., as far as is possible.

    Maybe the temperature trend would take a big up turn, if so it is a reversible step. If we are not going to make large cuts in fossil fuels globally in any known timescale, would not a proof of principle that when we do so and also remove the other emissions, we are not going to find ourselves needing to geo-engineer aerosols to keep a lid on things.

    As I understand it the forcing effect of the aerosols comes down within a few weeks or months of the reduction in production or does so in a large part, so the magnitude of their screening effect would be apparent relatively quickly. The effect of reducing these emissions is poorly quantified and perhaps it would be¬†better to start quantifying¬†them now. If the effect is small maybe little will happen, if moderate maybe we will rejoin the track we would have been on if we hadn’t acted on the CFC problem. If it is much larger than that then we might have a problem cutting back on fossil fuels by simply shutting coal power stations, particularly when it comes to the most poluting stations. I approve of adopting stategies and excercising a learning whilst doing process, but the above would also amount to¬†doing to learn.

    I should like to think we are actually going to do something in my lifetime  to modulate the warming other than the CFC cutback which was years ago. The CFC protocol was a big success in stemming the growth of the ozone hole and also in making a significant reduction in the rate of growth in GHG forcings. Where the temperatures would be if we had carried on growing CFC emissions at the rates prior to the protocol is worrying thought.

    Alex

  99. Michael says:

    It’s a curious proposition that aims to replace CO2 mitigation as the stated aim as it’s had “20 years” and not delivered, with fossil fuel replacement, which had it’s first big kick-along in the 1970’s.
    Why will it suddenly succeed now when it hasn’t¬† in the last 40 years?
     

  100. Paul Kelly says:

    It’s really only now that the necessary technologies exist.

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